MILLIONS of households are struggling to pay their energy bills this winter, as the cost of living soars and the price of heating up homes rockets.
Tashema Jackson, consumer champion at energyhelpline.com, has worked at price comparison sites for a decade and has spent years honing her money-saving skills.
The 35-year-old energy expert is constantly asking for energy saving tips from family and friends.
The most common question she hears is: how can I save money on my household bills?
“My favourite tip is just to turn the thermostat down by one degree,” she said.
Dialing it down just a fraction can save £50 or more over the course of the year.
Tashema said: “I also always tell people to run a comparison on household bills and looking at the best product for your needs, not just the cheapest one available.”
As the mercury drops, here are Tashema’s top tips for keeping your energy bills down this winter.
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Use your appliances wisely
If your washing machine defaults to a 60 degree wash, consider setting it to a lower temperature.
And while it’s tempting to do a few smaller loads over the course of the week, you’ll save money by waiting until you have enough for a full load and just turning the machine on once.
Tashema said: “The same goes for the dishwasher – only turn it on when it’s full to the brim and, if possible, wash some items up by hand.”
Go around your house and check what gadgets and appliances you’ve left on standby too.
Leaving a games console or TV with the red standby light blinking away could be costing you hundreds of pounds a year.
We’ve looked at the seven worst offenders that you should never leave in standby mode.
“The easiest way to save energy at home is to just switch any electronics off at the wall each time you finish using them,” said Tashema.
Draught-proof your home
Spending a few pounds on a draught excluder could shave hundreds of pounds off your energy bill.
Warm air escaping under doors and through poorly insulated doors and windows is the biggest culprit when it comes to wasting energy.
It’s estimated this is responsible for nearly 40% of all heat being lost from your home – and it’s costing you money.
Luckily, a draught excluder is a super cheap way to combat the problem – you can pick these up in any hardware store for a few quid or even make your own.
While you’re at it, pick up some self-adhesive draught-excluding tape to use around windows and door frames – it costs as little as £3 and will help trap warm air in your home to keep it toasty.
“Another area of your home responsible for losing you a lot of heat is your roof,” said Tashema.
“If you have a loft, it pays to ensure it is well insulated.”
Insulation is a more expensive problem to fix but it will save you money in the long run.
It’s worth checking when your home was insulated too, as the recommendations have changed so you might not be keeping as much warmth in as you could be.
The recommended depth for blanket-style insulation material is now between 250-270mm, but historically it was just 100mm.
Loft insulation costs from around £5 per square metre, but it could wipe up to £315 a year off your energy bill.
And you might be able to apply for a grant to reduce the cost.
The Energy Company Obligation Scheme offers grants for improving the energy efficiency of your home.
The grants are given out by energy suppliers and can help you replace an old boiler, add cavity wall insulation or loft insulation.
We spoke to one mum who saved £10,000 on insulation this way.
Efficient home heating
Turning down your thermostat by just one degree is one of the simplest thing you can do to reduce your bills.
Each degree you dial it down can you save around £80 a year on your heating bill.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, it's best to set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, which is usually between 18 and 21 degrees.
And don't buy into heating myths, warns Tashema.
One common tip is that leaving your heating on all day is more efficient but this is not actually true.
"You are far better off just turning your heating when you need it, so you aren't wasting money when you aren't at home," she said.
Pet owners could be wasting £140 a year leaving the heating on while they're out because they're worried about their furry friend getting cold.
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